Cebu Citizens-Press Council

Being accountable comes with being free

CCPC remains opposed to legislated right of reply

January 10th, 2011 · No Comments

THE Cebu Citizens-Press Council (CCPC) has stuck to its position that supports the right of reply and encourages its practice among journalists but condemns compulsion by criminal legislation.

Pachico Seares, CCPC executive director, said the language and content of the bills re-filed in the new Congress are still the same as in the bills previously filed in the House and opposed by the CCPC.

There have been no changes that will refute the basic argument that right of reply bills infringe the Constitution and are impractical and unnecessary, Seares said.

CCPC through Seares was invited last Dec. 14 to a public hearing of the House committee on public information headed by Rep. Ben Evardone.

Instead of attending the hearing, CCPC, through assistant executive director Cherry Ann Lim, sent copies of the council resolution dated Dec. 14, 2007 and the position paper researched and drafted by the Cebu Media Legal Aid or Cemla and adopted as part of the resolution.

House Bills 58 and 117, filed in the 15th Congress by Reps. Karlo Alexei B. Nograles and Pedro T. Romualdo, respectively, force media outlets to publish or air the reply of aggrieved news sources not later than one to three days after the reply has been delivered to the media outlets, or suffer penalties like fines and, in the case of HB 58, even imprisonment of owners and publishers, and closure of the media outlet.

CCPC believes legislating the right of reply violates not just the1987 Constitution of the Philippines but also international standards on civil and political rights.

It also considers the bills unnecessary since most news organizations, print and broadcast, have already adopted the right of reply as part of their standards and ethics.

Compulsory access will only “wreak havoc on editors’ functions,” as the use and display of material is traditionally determined by editors on the basis of news value, which changes frequently, the council said.

In its position paper, CCPC also said legislated right to reply, under constant threat of penalties, “can be used as additional form of harassment against journalists.”

A forum for media issues, the CCPC aims to defend press freedom and promote professional journalism.

Tags: Media issues

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